Landlording For Dummies

Property Manage

Hey, experts--I could use some extra insight. I recently graduated from college and landed a job as a property manager. I’m supposed to move to Washington, DC, early next month to get started. I’m excited and nervous about starting my first job. I already have some transferable skills from being both a resident assistant and an assistant community manager throughout college. That being said, I still feel a little out of my league, especially because my older brother likened it to being a landlord. Is that a totally accurate statement? I always thought landlords had more extensive powers, but I could be wrong.

Anxiety surrounding your very first career job is absolutely normal. Our first significant forays into the professional world are almost always uncertain, which means it’s only natural to get nervous about the outcomes. Fortunately, much has already been written about your subject and while there might be a lot to learn, there’s also ample time to do so. Before we get to that, however, you might consider taking a step back to evaluate your state of affairs. Believe it or not, there are right ways and wrong ways to approach career development. The best ways involve proactive planning.

Editors at Muse already put together a highly informative checklist of must-reads to investigate before you officially start your career. Key subjects include everything from making a great first impression to surviving trial-by-fire training. The best employees aren’t frequently the ones who simply keep their heads down and follow instructions. That sounds like a recipe for stasis. The best employees are instead the ones who demonstrate excellent leadership potential. And contrary to popular belief, great leadership isn’t as elusive as it seems.

Peter Economy at Inc. did you the favor of highlighting the five essential qualities of great leaders. He explains that leadership demands clarity, decisiveness, courage, passion, and humility. Clarity means conveying your message succinctly. Decisiveness means action without hesitation. Courage means action despite fear and uncertainty. Passion means inspiring those around you. Humility means accepting criticism as growth opportunities. Make no mistake, though: cultivating these attributes won’t be easy. That’s why you should begin contemplating them now.

When it comes to your specific profession, your brother isn’t entirely wrong in likening a property manager to a landlord. There are some definite similarities as well as distinct differences. Elle Di Jensen at Pocket Sense published an article highlighting what you should know. The primary difference has to do with ownership. Landlords retain complete legal control and authority over the property, whereas property managers only supervise the property on a landlord’s behalf. While most landlords find the idea of renting property very appealing, they might not be able to effectively manage a rental business alone.

The most ambitious landlords, with experience to boot, often invest in landlord software to streamline and simplify their activities. Others elect to hire a real estate agent who can then delegate business duties to deputized property managers. This is all made possible through an appointment to act as a managing agent. Landlords who collect payments directly from tenants can’t charge a service fee but also incur no third-party costs through the transaction itself. Landlords that utilize property management services may charge service fees but also incur third-party costs.  

Staff writers at Landlordology compiled a comprehensive list of seven cardinal rules of property management, which covers the responsibilities that are ultimately delegated to them by landlords. They encourage proper tenant screening but discourage any kind of discrimination. Making rental payments easy and automatic are also salient suggestions, especially when it comes to peace of mind. At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of credible resources that you can tap into before starting your job. These are excellent places to begin. And don’t hesitate to consult professionals directly to learn more about your chosen career path.

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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